Five tips for shooting in cold conditions

Snow, frost and ice all make for spectacular winter scenes. But most cameras are only designed to operate from 0 degrees Celsius or 32 Fahrenheit, so you’ll need to be careful when you’re taking photographs outside in sub-zero conditions. Shooting in snowy and icy climates is often difficult and it may also damage your gear, so here are our practical tips to get you through the colder months.

Borders by Jan Villim

Jan Villim, Borders

1. Use a tripod

Getting a steady shot won’t be easy if your hands are shaking from the cold. A lightweight and portable tripod will help stabilise your camera so you can shoot with confidence. Just remember not to touch the tripod with your bare hands if you’re in sub-zero conditions, as you may ‘burn’ your skin. If you’re an avid winter photographer, Canon Ambassador and winter sports photographer Richard Walch recommends investing in special climbing gloves. This handy piece of gear will allow you to expose your finger tips to shoot and then protect your hands between shots.

Sport Photography by Jure Fundak

Jure Fundak, Sport Photography

2. Take extra batteries

The cold weather will drain your batteries faster than normal. So keep your camera and batteries in your bag where they’ll be warmer for as long as you can. Also, remember to pack twice as many batteries as usual, so you keep on capturing those great shots.

3. Turn rings manually

If you’re using your camera outside and you haven’t turned the focus ring manually or used the Auto Focus for a while, then your lens focus and zoom rings may ‘freeze’. To stop this, make sure you keep your camera wrapped up and in a good quality bag when you are not using it or cover it up if shooting in snowfall. Or you can just turn the focus and zoom ring frequently using the AF motor or do it manually.

Behind the scenes of Skijoring in Patagonia by Richard Walch

© Richard Walch, Canon Ambassador

4. Watch out for condensation

Bringing your camera in from the cold to a warm environment will cause condensation which can damage your equipment. Richard Walch offers this advice: “When you go for lunch either you or the backpack will stay outside. If you go from cold to warm and try to check your images, it’s game over. Your camera will fog up, your lens will fog up and you will hurt your camera. You need to keep your camera in one temperature zone.”

You can catch up with Richard’s inspirational Skijoring story here.

Patagonian Mountains shot by Richard Walch

© Richard Walch, Canon Ambassador

5. Use your lens hood

In falling or blowing snow a lens hood can help prevent snow settling on the lens. Richard Walch agrees.

“The lens hood becomes tremendously important to make sure the flying snow doesn’t hit the lens. You get away with a lot if you use a good lens hood,” he says. So, keep your lens hood on and carry at least a couple of lens cloths with you to dry the glass before you put your camera back in its bag.

Come and See

When shooting the latest Canon story, – Skijoring - Director Marcus Söderlund and the crew faced extreme weather conditions. Join us behind the scenes to discover how they overcame this challenge and captured the high speed action of winter’s most extreme sport.